Watching the final episode of Jonathan Ross the other day I couldn’t but feel that the Daily Mail had got what it wanted. As long as I can remember they have had a vendetta against Ross and have never stopped short of criticising him.
It’s hard not to remember the Andrew Sachs controversy, where Ross and Russell Brand left messages on the respected actor’s voicemail that so got under everyone’s skin. Ever since then Ross has looked to be living on borrowed time at the BBC. What most people don’t know is that after the show a mere two complaints were registered to Ofcom in the next week, two out of an estimated audience of 400,000 – two million people depending on your source.
So what was the big deal? The Mail on Sunday of course. A week after the show and with only two complaints The Mail on Sunday must have been having a slow week, for they published a sensationalist article normally reserved for the likes of The Sun.
“Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross could face prosecution after obscene on air phone calls to Fawlty Towers actor, 78”
This was their genuine title about an incident that garnered no such cry for prosecution. And thus they brewed a storm that influenced readers unable to think for themselves. How else can 50,000 extra complaints be explained away in the wake of the article? Either people who hadn’t heard the show made these complaints based on a Sunday tabloid, or people who had originally heard the broadcast but thought nothing of it at the time felt shamed into complaining.
Of course the Daily Mail had previously criticised Ross at every opportunity. Being a Tory paper they took particular offence to his questioning of party leader David Cameron and if he’d had any sexual thoughts over Margaret Thatcher. Hmm. The kind of banter that might be had at any pub or between any group of blokes. Crude, undoubtedly, but also shown after the watershed and at roughly 11pm on a show well known for its risqué approach and controversial humour. Cameron knew what he was getting himself in for appearing on such a programme after all.
Would they have been so keen to criticise if Ross was a Tory?
“I like him [Gordon Brown]. If I could say where I’m going to vote, I’d vote for them. But I can’t say where I’m voting because I’m forbidden by my BBC contract.”
The Daily Mail was incensed that a figure on the supposedly unbiased BBC could offer support on a political party, but would they have glossed over it if it had been pro-conservative instead of Labour? I tend to think so. Despite being a Journalism student I have no qualms about admitting to and criticising the hypocritical and self-serving nature of the British press.
“It was following his interview with kung fu star Jackie Chan that Ross then stunned the audience by trashing the set.”
It may not read as much but it is another indication of the Mail’s hate for Ross. Let me point out that the audience were not stunned, and indeed laughed. It was actually during the interview and only a tiny fragment of one single picture of the whole set was broken. However it is easy to forget the facts when you have a grudge to pursue.
But where does the hate actually come from? Judging by the frequent references to his ‘obscene’ salary of six million pounds a year it would be this. Combined with the hatred they seem to have of the BBC of course.
And it is this hatred that seems so hard to fathom. Not a day goes by without reading an article about another great British institution going under or being taken over, however when it comes to the BBC the Daily Mail is nothing short of damning. Seeing as the funding for the BBC comes from the licence payer and is thus a public service they are always critical about how money is spent. 400 people go to Glastonbury from the BBC is disgusting they say, not bearing in mind that many are technicians as well as Journalists, presenters and producers. Money is wasted on World Cup coverage as the studio isn’t even based in the city holding the final? Who cares? They give the best damn coverage and it comes at a price. Yes there is money to be saved but Ross’s much criticised contract was actually for less than rivals were offering. You can’t produce a quality service without spending and if it isn’t quality then what is the point of it?
Perhaps the Daily Mail is simply too old fashioned. I hate to admit that it is the paper I read the most, mainly out of habit and convenience, and as someone who recently voted conservative you’d think I’d tend to agree with it. However it can make my blood boil. It seems either unwilling or unable to see that what doesn’t appeal to them and perhaps a lot of their readers (mainly aimed at affluent families, with a leaning towards being female friendly) is exactly what other people want.
Comedy values have gone downhill is a familiar cry, Ross is an untalented broadcaster is another. No, he simply doesn’t appeal to The Mail. But to 5 million people every Friday night he does. And will continue to do so whatever channel he is aired on. So congratulations to the Daily Mail. You haven’t ended Jonathan Ross’s career, but you have put another nail in the coffin of the one British company you hate by losing an A-list broadcaster from the BBC.